Investors, Entrepreneurs, and Business Executives
The business immigration team at Murray Osorio has extensive experience assisting entrepreneurs and startups to set-up, launch and establish a new business in the U.S. Whether a foreign national investor looking to start a wholly new business in the U.S., or an established foreign company looking to incorporate a new U.S. subsidiary, led by Heidi Son, we can help guide, strategize and navigate the various visa options available.
E Treaty Visas
E visas are available if there is a treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and the country of ownership of the sponsoring applicant entity. The sponsoring U.S. entity must be at least 50% owned by foreign nationals of qualifying treaty country. Please see here for a list of qualifying E countries.
- For E visas, the existence of a foreign company is not required. In other words, foreign nationals who want to establish a wholly new business in the U.S. are eligible for E visa as long as all other requirements are met.
- In addition to Principal Traders and Investors (as explained further below), E visa eligible companies may sponsor foreign nationals in an executive, managerial or “essential” knowledge position if the employee and the sponsoring company are of the same nationality.
- While E visas usually last for five (5) years, they may continue to be extended as long as the U.S. business entity is successfully operating.
E-1 (Treaty Trader): An E-1 Visa is a Treaty Trader Visa, and the U.S. sponsoring entity must conduct substantial trade between the U.S. and the applicant’s country.
- Individuals looking to start a U.S. business entity qualify for E-1 visas, if they are nationals of a treaty country, and is coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the U.S. enterprise that conducts substantial trade between the U.S. and their home country.
- While there is no set minimum dollar value for what amounts to “substantial” trade, at least 50% of the substantial trade (revenues generated through sale/purchase of products or services) must be between the U.S. and the applicant’s country.
- A one-time “substantial” sale/purchase amount does not constitute “substantial” trade. Trade must be a “continuous flow” of numerous transactions over time.
E-2 (Treaty Investor): An E-2 Visa is a Treaty Investor Visa, and is based on the applicant’s substantial investments into the U.S. economy and contribution to the creation of more U.S. jobs. The foreign owner(s) of the U.S. entity must have invested or be actively investing a “substantial amount” of capital into the U.S. through the U.S. entity. The investor must have control of the funds (i.e., evidence of legitimate source of funds), and the investment must be at risk – meaning that it is spent.
- Individuals looking to invest and start a U.S. business entity qualify for such visas, if they are nationals of a treaty country, have invested and spent “substantial” amount into the U.S. entity and is coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the U.S. enterprise.
- Again, there is no set minimum dollar value for what amounts to “substantial” investment. However, the investment amount must be sufficient to establish a viable business from the start.
L-1 Intracompany Transferee Executive/Managers
The L-1 visas are available when an overseas, foreign company seeks to establish a subsidiary or affiliate company in the U.S. Employees of such companies may qualify for an intra-company transfer if they have worked for at least 1 year out of the past 3 years for the company overseas in a qualifying position, and are coming to the U.S. to fill either an executive or managerial position (L-1A) with professional level subordinates or a position that requires specialized knowledge (L-1B).
- The foreign entity and the sponsoring U.S. entity must share at least 50% ownership.
- If it has been less than one (1) year since the establishment of a U.S. entity, a new business L-1 visa is available for the 1st executive transferred from the affiliated foreign entity. While the new business L-1 visa is issued for only one (1) year, it gives the most flexibility since there is no requirement of any investment amount or any immediate hiring of subordinates in the U.S.
- The maximum length of stay is 7 years for L-1A visa holders, and 5 years for L-1B.
Those on L-1A visas may also be eligible to apply for permanent residence (what is often known as the Green card) in the First Preference Employment-Based (EB-1C) category. While the regulatory language is almost exactly the same as an L-1A, EB-1C petitions are reviewed and adjudicated on a more stringent standard with greater scrutiny directed towards smaller companies and executive/managers with fewer subordinates.
O-1 “Extraordinary” Entrepreneur
Foreign nationals with “extraordinary” abilities in business are eligible for an O-1 Nonimmigrant Visa. The stringent criteria for O-1 visas require applicants to demonstrate “extraordinary” ability by sustained national or international acclaim, and more specifically, proof of fulfillment of certain listed criteria, including authorship of professional articles, published material in professional publications about his/her work/entrepreneurship, critical role in organizations/entities of distinguished reputation and significant contributions to his/her specialized field, to name a few.
The foreign national of extraordinary ability must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of his/her extraordinary ability. O-1 visas are typically granted for an initial period of 3 years, but can be extended in one-year increments as long as the “extraordinary” ability and work is sustained. Those on O-1 visas may also be eligible to apply for the First Preference Employment-Based Green Cards.
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